The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous: Step One

We admitted we were powerless over others, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step One became reality for me in August 1993. The month and the year I finally hit the emotional, physical, and mental bottom of the grave I'd been digging for myself. For me, Step One was the admission that I had played god in my life for 33 years, and as a self-made god, I was completely inadequate, my life completely unmanageable. Admitting to myself, my self was a turning point. The first step in a journey of a thousand miles. It was the verbal and mental admission of personal defeat. The verbal and mental admission of the fact that reality and healing lay in a way other than one of my will, my way, my own making. The first step toward acceptance of my own true powerlessness.

Step One was admitting powerlessness out loud, to myself, rather than having someone else saying it to me, rather than life telling me over and over again—I verbally admitted and confessed my powerlessness. I admitted that my willfullness and insistance that life bow to my will was the source of my problems. I admitted I could no longer blame someone else or something else—I realized I was my own problem, and more importantly, that I was not the solution. My ego was my problem.

My ego, willfulness, and pride problems were mine to solve. These problems would not be fixed by focusing on another person—what they did or did not do. My problems would not go away by themselves or if I exiled some other person from my life as the scape goat. My problems were not someone else's responsibility. My problems were the result of my mismanaging my life.

How had my life become so unmanageable? By focusing on others as the source of my problem. By waiting for someone to help me fix my problems. By expecting someone else to take responsibility for my problems. By thinking that I alone possessed the power to run my life using my own resources. By thinking that "if only" such and such would happen, then, my life would be perfect.

For me, Step One was giving up the power and control I believed I possessed; giving up the notion that my life was the result of some fatalistic plan; admitting out loud the mess I had made of my life; and giving up the ego trip of self-sufficiency and self-will. For me, Step One is the on-going, daily admission that I am not the god of my life.

Step One is the end-point of despair; the beginning of hope.

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next: The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous Step Two

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 10). The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous: Step One, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: August 7, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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